Spring '23-Special Topics-Slavery and Religion in the Black Experience

AFRO 298
Black Methodists Holding a Prayer Meeting by Pavel Petrovich Svinin

The enslavement of kidnapped Africans in North America was not simply a social, political, or economic problem.  Rather, the institution of chattel slavery was inextricably tied to the religious and cosmological imagination of the colonial settler.  One might say "empireligion."  This course scrutinizes theological and religious claims and practices of slaveholding North America, particularly in relation to the question of the materiality of enslavement.  In a constructive move, participants will examine the undercurrent-or fugitive-imagination of enslaved Africans in their quest to assert and perform a sort of religion otherwise.  In so doing, course attendees will pay close attention to the organization of the "invisible institution" - that clandestine religious world of enslaved radicals - including theological mediations that offered a retort to, and rejection of, slaveholding empireligion.  We will consider a variety of sources in the archive, including spirituals, narratives, and testimony, as a way of listening to the voices in the aftermath. Course meets with Religion (REL) 294.